Over the years, I have been attracted to many things in the middle east. When I first came here, I never dreamt of liking anything here. A heart tortured with homesickness, it always longed for the greenness of home and hated everything about this dusty desserty land. It was strange and uninteresting to me. I thought the dust storms and gruelling cold would make me sick and sometimes it did. But slowly, very slowly I began to get adapted to everything and surprised myself as I began to fall in love with the things here. I began to see life here with a new perspective. Right from the people's way of greeting to their enchanting cuisine.. everything shouted warmth.
Over the years, I have watched the middle east people greet each other with as much warmth as I haven't seen any where else in the world. The way they hug each other and kiss each other generously on the cheeks was fascinating to me when I first watched them. Though I know that people in the middle east are known for their tempers, how they are able to hug each other in a graceful embrace and plant a number of kisses on each others cheeks, at the end of the day is quiet interesting. Whatever it is, it takes a bit of forgiveness and love to embrace another person with such warmth. And that is the first thing I fell in love with, here...'the people's way of greeting each other'
The second thing I fell in love with is the middle eastern cuisine. Right from perfectly baked chicken to beautiful baklavas, everything middle eastern shouted warmth. And I have lost count of the number of baklavas I have chewed down my throat in the last six years.
This is a biscuit from the middle east I tried sometime back and is perfect for this cold weather with a hot steaming cup of tea. It is called Kleja in arabic and is locally available in supermarkets and confectioneries. But baking it at home gave it a bit more realistic essence and what more? real warmth. Try this for the holiday baking ventures. It sure wouldn't let you down.
Kleja / Cardamom Biscuit Recipe:
3 cups whole wheat flour
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup veg.oil
1/4 cup low fat milk
1 egg, beaten
1 tbsp baking powder
2 tsp ground cardamom
1/4 tsp salt
Egg+ 2 tbsp milk (for egg wash)
- Combine sugar and milk in a small pan and stir over medium heat without boiling, until sugar dissolves. Set aside to cool.
- Sift flour and other dry ingredients into a mixing bowl. Add oil into it and combine with a fork until crumbly.Then add egg and milk sugar mixture. Mix well with hands and form the dough into a ball. Let set for 10 to 15 minutes.
- Preheat the oven to 160 degree C
- Roll dough on a lightly floured surface. Cut it with biscuit cutters or lid of a bottle into 2 and 1/2 inch circles. Make cross lines on it using the back of a knife.
- Line a baking sheet with parchment or baking paper and place them on it. Brush with egg wash and bake at 160 degree C for 15 to 20 minutes or until golden brown.
- Let cool and store in an air tight container or serve with tea.